REVIEW: SeeYouSpaceCowboy – Coup de Grâce [2024]

Artist: SeeYouSpaceCowboy
Album: Coup de Grâce

The best albums are ones that take you on a journey. This doesn’t have to mean its a concept record—though there are some absolutely phenomenal concept records—but really can be broadly applied to any release that takes the listener to a place—emotional, mental, spiritual, whatever. Coup de Grâce (referred hereafter as Coup de Grace), the 2024 full length record by post-hardcore/metalcore/mathcore/white-belt chimera SeeYouSpaceCowboy is one of those records. While there are the threads of an overarching concept; an opening, an intermezzo and a curtain call, Coup de Grace does not take the listener strictly on that type of journey. Rather, the frantic breakdowns, spastic vocals and stunning diversity on Coup de Grace take the listener (or at least me) back in time. SeeYouSpaceCowboy masterfully craft a record that recreates and amplifies the essence of “scene” -core music in the mid to late 2000s, sounding remarkably akin to something you might torrent from a 3+ gigabyte file uploaded to Isohunt or Demonoid while running back-to-back-to-back games of Halo 2 with your best friends on a Friday night in 2006. Somehow, though, Coup de Grace is more than this—it is more than a cheap attempt at extorting nostalgia, and is, in turn, one of the finest and most unconventionally brilliant records of the year so far.

Everything about SeeYouSpaceCowboy is hard to pigeonhole. On one hand, no two records of theirs sound similar—from their highly chaotic and grind-dusted mathcore releases to Coup de Grace, which draws from spastic whitebelt and mathcore admixed with a heaping helping of post-hardcore, emo and metalcore. No single one of these genres do the band justice, and the more subgenres and titles one throws into the mix, the more the forest seems to get lost for the trees—simply put, the band’s dynamic on Coup de Grace is emotional, abrasive and spazzy. Songs like “Subtle Whispers to Take Your Breath Away” and “Silhouettes in Motion” highlight the band’s more aggressive tendencies with vitriol, blending lightning-fast percussion in a maelstrom of dissonant chugs and frantic fretwork that segues from breakdown to two-step before the listener can find their footing. Other songs—single “Chewing the Scenery” and the closing cut “Curtain Call” alongside others see the band leaning more heavily into melancholic post-hardcore and emo with less emphasis on brutalizing breakdowns (though the closing portion of “Chewing the Scenery” does stand out in this respect as well). SeeYouSpaceCowboy oscillate beautifully between these two relative extremes, with unpredictable and lacerating moments that remind the listener of their early discography juxtaposed against segments of unsettling serenity. “Lubricant Like Kerosene” is one song that strides the divide brilliantly, as does the immensely catchy “To the Dance Floor for Shelter.” No matter what the listener wanted out of this multifaceted and omnitalented band, they’re sure to get it in spades.

Just as Coup de Grace is a stunningly diverse instrumental offering, the band’s vocal element deserves just as much praise. Harshly spat screams and piercing shrieks share center stage with an entire array of singing techniques and styles that amplify the band’s nostalgic elements tenfold. The shouted elements reminiscent of bands like Blood Brothers, Fear Before and Drop Dead, Gorgeous often segue into sharp, high screams and a raw mid-range belt—but can just as frequently regress into incredibly catchy choruses or immaculate vocal hooks. This dynamism is bolstered by several remarkable guest vocalists—the unexpected but incredibly fun Kim Dracula segment on “Lubricant Like Kerosene,” or the haunting singing from Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante on “To the Dance Floor for Shelter” are brilliant examples of this. Solo artist iRis.EXE appears twice during the band’s opening and intermission cuts, adding even more to the experience that is Coup de Grace. Every jarring shift from sing to scream and every guest vocal appearance is meticulously placed—even if it might feel unpredictable and random—to match perfectly with the song’s instrumental soundscape, making the record a remarkably cohesive listening experience.

The more the weighty responsibilities of adulthood weigh on me, the more I long for simpler times—and this has, admittedly, made me long for the bands that got me into heavy music in the first place. That is one reason—but far from the only reason—that Coup de Grace is what I believe to be one of the strongest releases of the year thus far. Omitting nostalgia from the equation, SeeYouSpaceCowboy have made a technically immaculate record that spans a huge array of styles and emotions both, thrusting the listener neck-deep into the throes of each. Coup de Grace is masterfully made in every respect, and while SeeYouSpaceCowboy’s continuous adaptation, growth and change from record to record is beyond admirable, I wouldn’t be upset if they hovered over this sound and style for a record or two more.

For Fans Of: Blood Brothers, Duck Duck Goose, From First to Last, Fear Before, Daughters, Knocked Loose
By: Connor Welsh